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Dunedin's proposed budget doesn't raise taxes or tap into reserves

DUNEDIN — Taxes won't go up, the city won't use reserves and the library will keep its budget for new books, according to the city's proposed budget for next year.

The $84.5 million budget, to be voted on by city commissioners next week, includes a winter closure of the Highlander Pool and more than a dozen layoffs.

The city's property tax rate will stay at $3.5597 per $1,000 of taxable value — the city's lowest rate in a decade, and one of the lowest in the county.

An earlier proposal to cut $82,000 out of the library's funding toward buying new books was reversed, leaving it with $207,000 in next year's budget.

To help fill a $2 million deficit caused by sinking property values, the city will slash 13 positions, bringing its staffing to the lowest count in at least 20 years.

Among the layoffs, which account for about $700,000 in savings: The city arborist, a library accountant, a senior development technical assistant, an information-services director, employees at the water-wastewater plant and a recreation coordinator for the Nature Center.

In the last four years, 62 positions have been cut, half of which were occupied.

Dunedin will make up the rest of the deficit with belt-tightening measures, such as changing its vehicle replacement piggy-bank to a pay-as-you-go system and outsourcing its plant laboratory to a private contractor.

The city now has about $6.7 million tucked away in reserves — 29 percent of its general fund, or nearly double the required level. City Manager Rob DiSpirito, echoing last year's similarly grim projection, said that extra cash could keep the city afloat.

"I anticipate that the next two or three years are going to be tougher than the last two or three," DiSpirito said. "We're going to need it."

Contact Drew Harwell at dharwell@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4170.

Dunedin's proposed budget doesn't raise taxes or tap into reserves 09/17/10 [Last modified: Friday, September 17, 2010 8:04pm]
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